Being in love is like taking a drug
Psychologist Arthur Arlen and neurologist Lucy Brown had a experience to test the brains of people falling in love. They found ten women and seven men who were passionately falling in love, from one month to two years. The researchers showed them their partner or someone looks like their partner and scan their brain at t1he same time.
From the scan result, the active spots of seeing the partner are the same as that of looking for rewards. Arthur Arlen says, the reaction of brain of the fervently love and addiction to drug are in the same theory. Which means the mood of looking forward to seeing the beloved are the same as the drug users to looking for drugs.
But love is more complicated than drug taking. From researches on love and brains in last twenty years, it is found that love is mainly a factor to activate rewarding circle especially ventral tegmental area and caudate nucleus. (Bartels, A., & Zeki, S,2004), and restrain brain activities concerned with social judgement and negative emotions. All of these show that love is not just an emotion but a reward motivation that are akin to money rewarding. (Saxe, R., & Haushofer, J, 2008)
But love doesn’t just related to Dopamine brain region but also concerned with higher cortical brain regions. Hence it is not a basic emotion but also refers to cognitive competence. On the other side, love will also result in hormone and neurotransmitter transmitting, including cortisol, dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin and vasopressin, nerve growth factor, etc. (Bartels, A., & Zeki, S,2004；Emanuele, E., Politi, P., Bianchi, M., Minoretti, P., Bertona, M., & Geroldi, D. 2006) whilst at the same time, love will have a negative effect on social judgement. (Bartels, A., & Zeki, S,2004)
What is Dopamine? And what is reward mechanism?
Dopamine is neurotransmitter to assist in the transmitting of chemicals of cells, with which the brain will respond to sexual passion and feelings, passing the information of happiness.
Reward mechanism is neural reward route produced by Dopamine and is the inner power of human beings. Human beings look for happiness and avoid painfulness. Any thing that done by human beings are through the reward mechanism to make people happy, whether it is eating, shopping, making money, having power, falling in love, etc.
What will happen after a breakup?
Falling in love is because of the secretion of Dopamine and other hormones and neurotransmitters. After a breakup, people get seriously depressed because the sharp drop of hormones causes a withdrawal reaction. The process of falling in love and falling apart are like to be clean.
After a breakup, the one who was in love before will have a low Dopamine level which is like drug users cannot get drugs when they are having recurrence of drug addition. The Dopamine level of VTA region will be lower than a usual one and constant low level of Dopamine will bring about low spirit, unstable emotions and damages to attentions and memories. At the moment, the body will remind the brain of need of activation to gain some Dopamine to have a usual level, hence obtaining happiness and keeping in a normal physiological level, which is the thirst mechanism of drug taking. And for those breakups, they have been used to a regular partner as a stimulus to keep them happy and excited.
The stimulus will not give you a regular respond after a breakup and if human bodies keep in a low Dopamine level, it will start having some symptoms of low spirit, instability, and unhappy. And at this moment the body will keep activate the brain to recover to a usual level, which explains why some people keep recalling old good moments. However, since the stimulus has disappeared after breakup so the level of Dopamine will keep low.
To get out of a breakup, we need to get used to the absent space and also need to change and reconstruct our nerve route. At the same time, they have to experience withdrawal reaction.
It takes a short time to build up the route to produce Dopamine but learn how to get used to the disappearing and change of nerve route takes a long time. In addition, in the process of extinction, there comes frequently intensifying, like a run into in a party or texting from time to time, all of these details will keep cheating brain that it is an intimate contact again but in fact it is not. The sharp reducing of Dopamine will result in tormenting withdrawal reaction and the extinction will get slow as well.
All in all, only two ways to get recovered from a breakup: time and new relationship. The new relationship will play as a new stimulus to get people recovered from a Dopamine low state. And with the passage of time, the compensation of body will work to recover Dopamine.
After a breakup, it is hard to move on. But one day in the future, sadness will disappear. Moving on does not mean to forget but to have a better self. Enjoy the life and ready to meet more people out there.